Turn A Gundam ep 1 reaction

I just watched the first episode of Turn A Gundam. A mecha podcast I follow, Giant Robot FM, recorded an episode on it. I hadn’t watched the series before I decided to pop in and at least watch the first episode. It was nothing like I was expecting.

I had heard the name before but knew nothing about the show. I’ve seen like tenish episodes of original Gundam, the first few of a couple other series, seen gunpla of a lot of mobile suits, and I’ve been watching the current series, Witch from Mercury. Gundam from what I’ve seen is giant robots fighting in space.

So, I was not prepared for the early 20th century-like setting the main character started wandering around in after landing from space. The flying wing blimp reset my expectations for this series hard. Later, airplanes that seem just past the biplane level of tech are referred to as being the latest models. And the cars are boxy “just this side of Model Ts” vehicles. Where are the lasers and hover bikes and space war? I started questioning if I was watching the right anime. Maybe I was watching an episode of the Little Prince instead. But no, the mid episode eyecatch proudly declared I was watching Gundam.

Toward the end of the episode some allusions are made to what the situation is but there is still a lot that’s unclear. While I am desperate to know what is going on I like that the characters aren’t “as you know”ing at each other. Also no robots, giant or otherwise, show up in this first episode but I’m not disappointed because of how interested I am in learning more about this world.

I original watched this just so I could listen to that one podcast episode but I am compelled by my curiosity to keep watching.

Poker Face Ep 1-4 Review

I have watched all four episodes of Rian Johnson’s new crime mystery show Poker Face. In my previous blog post I questioned why four episodes had been dropped all at once. I’m still not sure but I wanted to share some of my thoughts on these episodes. Mild spoilers to follow.

The first episode has the unenviable job of introducing the main character, her circumstances, her personality, and the hook for the rest of the season. It does this while also having it’s own crime mystery for Charlie to solve. The opening is very Colombo showing off the entire crime before rewinding a bit and shifting to Charlie’s perspective. Seeing the time of the crime from her pov without cutting to the crime really grounds the audience in the character. We know what really happened but we get to see Charlie poke at the pieces she sees.

The aesthetics of the show are perfect for the “seventies/eighties weekly crime mystery show” style they’re going for. Frost Jr’s suits are perfect and the casino also has slightly outdated look. Natalie and Charlie’s cars are older models that invoke that past time period. And the Mother of Pearl handle gun is just chef’s kiss. Despite the older aesthetic, smart phones and tablets do show up in the episode and are smartly integrated into the plot. The villain is smart enough to erase evidence from a phone and even check that he isn’t being recorded at one point but slips up in other ways.

The ending of the first episode is strong. Charlie solves the murder of her friend and gets back at the men who killed her. Her victory is short lived after Frost Jr kills himself in disgrace, which puts her on Mr. Frost’s short list. Thus the premise of the show, Charlie Cade, human lie detector, on the run from Mr. Frost’s men, is established.

Watched the second episode and I loved it. It’s very Incredible Hulk or The Fugitive with the main character wandering from town to town getting mixed up in the local crime of the week. I really like that the show isn’t afraid to spend time (17 minutes this episode) setting up the crime before Charlie shows up in the episode at all. The one thing I’m missing is a short intro explaining the premise; not because the show needs it but because it would fit with the style of the show and be fun.

Something like, “Charlie Cade is a human lie detector. Her best friend was murdered by the men who run Las Vegas. She uncovered the truth and now she’s on the run from Mr. Frost and his right hand man Cliff. They will stop at nothing to find and kill her.”

I like the recurring bit with Charlie not being able to remember a word. They did it a couple of times in first episode and once in the second. It’s a fun audience participation moment; the grownup version of a Muppet asking you to sound out the word on the screen.

Charlie’s lie detector skill is used but it isn’t the crux of the show. She does plenty of boots on the ground information gathering and investigation; mostly using her skill to ferret out contradictions (in a very Colomboesque manner).

The episode’s ending is a little week because Charlie has to run before seeing Jed getting arrested. The fact that we do see the police pulling up, lights and sirens blasting, lets us know he doesn’t get away with it after all.

Episode three is the first episode not directed by show creator Rian Johnson who wrote the first episode and directed the first and second episodes. The show’s style is so well defined that I did not see a noticeable difference. Plus it can be hard to say what differences are from directing, writing, or editing.

I was sad about the dog until it turned out to be a “MAGA dog”. It’s a funny bit and lessens to blow of the dog’s apparent death (spoiler the dog lives but is still racist). I thought the dog was going to stick around as Charlie’s “sidekick” but thankfully it gets a home at the local radio station.

The music cues while Charlie was tasting the different woods was a very interesting way to convey that information. Later when she first smells the cinnamon floss we hear an air horn which calls back to George calling it an air horn at the symphony which Charlie literally calls back to in the scene a minute later. And then later the lack of a sound becomes instrumental in unraveling the murder conspiracy.

It’s a little funny that this show, that streams on Peacock, would include Okja, which was a Netflix movie, as a plot point.

In this episode unlike the last one, Charlie gets to stay on the scene until the police show up giving her and us closure before she fades away. Overall I think I liked this episode a little bit more than the second but all three episodes so far have been very good. On to the next episode.

The fourth episode feels like the weakest episode so far. It’s still good but lacking some of the complexity of previous episodes. The murder is fairly straightforward and so Charlie’s investigation doesn’t have many twists to uncover.

I expected Ruby to deny Gavin wrote the song and for that to lead to a gotcha moment but it didn’t because she just admitted it. She checks out the amp and sees that it has the three prongs. So it should have been safe, which again felt like it should have lead to a gotcha moment but also just goes no where. And when Charlie realizes the whole band was in on the murder not just the one guy, that felt like it should have raised the stakes but she just accuses the whole band and gets kicked out.

Cliff showing up also was kind of anticlimactic. The villain’s right hand man catches up to her and she easily evades him and escapes.

The ending, where the song’s melody is revealed to be copied from the sitcom Gavin was watching and having the whole murder plot exposed by a true crime podcaster, was the best part of the episode. Still an enjoyable episode and if I wasn’t writing this review I probably wouldn’t have thought to much about it.

So, did Poker Face need a four episode drop? No, I don’t think so. The first episode is outstanding and has a strong story hook to bring back the audience in the following weeks. If they had wanted to play it safe, dropping the second episode as well to give a taste of the weekly format wouldn’t hurt. I just don’t know what is gained by dropping almost half the season, four out of ten episodes, on the first day. I’m not complaining to hard because the show is great and I plan to keep watching it in the upcoming weeks.

Poker Face and the four episode drop

I’ve just watched the first episode of Poker Face, Rian Johnson’s new mystery show on Peacock. I love this first episode but I won’t know if I love the series until next episode. It’s a strong start, with a interesting main character, an intriguing story, menacing villains, a really great setup for a weekly episodic show.

I’m concerned that four episodes were dropped all at once. It’s become common for multiple episodes of a show to be dropped if they need, or there is a perceived need for, them to be seen together. Usually it’s two or three episodes. Four episodes of a ten episode season, nearly half the season, feels like a desperation move to hook viewers.

After seeing the first episode, which I remind you I loved, this feels completely unnecessary. I could understand dropping two episodes. This first episode while it does have its own mystery also sets up the rest of the season so it’s not indicative of a regular episode. So you drop the second episode to inform viewers of what a regular episode will be like.

I am going to watch the second and maybe third episodes tonight(three episodes of any show in a row is usually my limit) so this is just me speculating unto the motives behind the four episode drop. Everything I’ve heard so far about the show has been positive. People are eager to watch the rest of the season and as many more seasons as will be made. I hope I feel the same way.

My X-Men Movies Watch Order

I recently watched Dark Phoenix, The Wolverine, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Afterwards, I realized I have now watched all the released movies in the Fox X-Men franchise. (New Mutants is set to be released at some point in the future(maybe?) and will be the last movie in the franchise.)

The first X-Men movie came out in 2000 near the beginning of the current era of comic book movies. After three mainline movies and one spinoff, the franchise was soft rebooted with X-Men: First Class. It was set in the ’60s as a prequel to the first movie but it also contradicted some events of the preceding movies causing most to simply declare it a full reboot. The next movie X-Men: Days of Future Past confused things further by strengthening ties to the Original Trilogy era movies but also creating an alternate timeline for future Retro Series movies whose future was portrayed by actors from the Original Trilogy movies. And then you have the DeadPool movies doing their own thing.

All in all, it can be confusing knowing where to start. You could watch them in release order but the movies weren’t planned to tell an overarching story like the MCU movies. Imagine if Endgame was released after Civil War and then followed by Ant-Man.

Watching in continuity order creates its problems. “Early” movies while technically a new continuity can not help referencing “later” movies. Also in this order, the second movie in continuity draws entire characters and actors from “future” movies. The already muddled meta-story is thrown in complete disarray.

The answer is a custom watch order. I’m not going to claim this is the only way to watch the X-Men movies but I’ve done my best to reorder the movies to support the overall X-Men story and make the overall experience enjoyable.

Click on through to read my Watch Order for the X-Men Movies.

Continue reading “My X-Men Movies Watch Order”

“The Umbrella Academy” Episode Ten Thoughts

I liked this episode a lot. It pulls the story threads together, has a couple of great action scenes, and ends the season off in a decent way.

As a season finale, it’s fine but if the series hadn’t been picked up for a second season and this had been the series finale it would not have been fine. In a way, I’m glad I didn’t binge through this series before the second season was announced because I would not have been happy with this ending.

But we’re getting a second season so I can abide the final five minutes of this episode knowing the story will continue.

Episode specific thoughts below the cut

Continue reading ““The Umbrella Academy” Episode Ten Thoughts”

“The Umbrella Academy” Episode Nine Thoughts

Second to the last episode done. We’re in the final stretch with the ending in sight.

I feel all wound up for the finale. Overall I’ve really liked the series up to this point. It’s going to take a real stinker of an ending to change my mind.

I’m kind of surprised that this episode and the finale are 45 and 47 minutes long respectively. They are the shortest ones in the season where most episodes have hovered around the hour mark. I don’t feel like this episode was too short but it wouldn’t have hurt to expound on a few things.

Spoiler thoughts under the cut. Continue reading ““The Umbrella Academy” Episode Nine Thoughts”

“The Umbrella Academy” Episode Eight Thoughts

I am massively late with this review but I am finishing the season soon.

Not a lot happened in this episode but some important backstory is revealed. I still really enjoyed it. The series is doing a good job of filling in a lot of the blanks the comic never did. We move closer to the apocalypse by a day. Two more episodes remain in the season.

Spoiler thoughts below the cut Continue reading ““The Umbrella Academy” Episode Eight Thoughts”

Black Mirror Season 5 Review


The longer Black Mirror goes on the less it has to say about technology. Ideas from previous seasons are being recycled more and more. The show needs to move beyond “people use technology too much and that’s bad”.

Having said that, I still found these new episodes fun to watch. The

“Striking Tigers” Rating 2.5/5

Infidelity the episode. Except for the immersive VR this is a story that could be told with WOW or Everquest or even just Facebook. The new technology doesn’t create these behaviors it just enables it. You could tell this same story in 1910 with telephones. The cross-gender element was really underexplored along with the fact that they could have been any character but just choose the same ones each time.

“Striking Tigers” is one of the weakest episodes of the series. Only its actors save the uninspired plot from being unwatchable. Anthony Mackie and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II sell their friendship and romance incredibly.

“Smithereens” Rating 4.5/5

This is my favorite episode of the season. Set in present day, it is a dramatic thriller about addictive social media, big tech company overreach, and survivor guilt. There is an undercurrent of “social media bad” but the episode is more about unintended (and intended) effects of social media rather than a simple denouncement of such.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot because while there are no major twists the story unfolds beat to beat rather nicely.

“Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” Rating 3/5

“Virtual actors/singers and who controls the rights” to them is not a bad premise for an episode but the side plot of toy copies and the one superfan mudded the waters. I think “Waldo Moment” from season two did the premise better.

I was surprised a little bit by the episode’s plot. I was expecting the Ashley Too to malfunction and become malicious or manipulative. Unlike most other episodes with a copied consciousness, there isn’t a lot of handwringing about what to do with the copy and she is simply allowed to continue to exist.

This episode has a happy light-hearted ending and while it isn’t not my favorite episode it was the perfect way to end the season of what is normally a pretty depressing series. I’m not saying every season should end with a happy ending but it was nice to not feel soul crushed when going to sleep.

Final Thoughts

Overall season five is about average for Black Mirror. Some repeated premises, but good to excellent acting and with the exception of “Striking Vipers” solid stories.



I’ve Seen the Endgame (no spoilers)


I started today off very lazily. After drifting in and out of sleep for a couple of hours, I got up around 4 pm. (Note: I normally sleep between 6 am and 2 pm.) I put a small load of clothing to wash before heading to shower. After my shower, I set the clothes to dry and I started browsing tumblr and Facebook.

The day before I had checked online to see which showings of Endgame were sold out. Most of the early evening showings were but the later ones were still available. I didn’t want to go out to the theater so late at night and have to walk home at an even later time. I had figured that I would have to decide before 8 pm in order to have time to get to the theater and get in before I was forced into a side seat in the front.

Just before 6 pm, I received a phone call from work asking if I was okay. I replied that it was my day off, wasn’t it? Guess what, it wasn’t. I was given the option of not coming in because it was a fairly slow day and my position, jewelry counter, isn’t strictly essential. I decided to go in and recover what few hours I could. So I rushed about to change into work clothes and hurried to the bus stop. I just managed to catch the 6 pm bus.

After getting to work, I started thinking about going to see Endgame afterward. My store is in the mall which is right next to the theater. The latest showing was about an hour after we would be getting off work, giving me plenty of time to get a good seat. On the con side, I had not eaten before rushing off to work and there was nowhere besides the theater and their inflated prices to get a passable meal.

I flip-flopped several times over the course of a few hours until I committed to seeing the movie tonight. My plan was to fortify myself with a root beer and snickers bar from the break room vending machines.

As I rounded the corner of the mall I saw the theater parking was full and overflowing into nearby mall parking. I nearly walked straight home but I had committed myself to this course of action no matter how foolish (but harmless) it was. A line hugging the side of the theater again tested my resolve. Were these people in line to buy tickets? Was the line to an earlier showing this long? Once closer to the theater I saw the line was constrained by a pair of retractable queue poles and not nearly as long as I had feared.

After buying my ticket, I joined the line I had seen on my approach. Not long after the line was moved inside to the short maze next to the ticket taker station. A police officer walked from end to end informing people this was the line for the 11 pm 3D showing of Endgame. I was seeing the 11 pm 2D showing of Endgame. I inquired about the line for the 2D showing and was directed to a line that had at most twenty other people. My fears of getting a bad seat disappeared.

About thirty minutes into the movie I started to feel a headache beginning to wrap itself across my forehead. Watching a movie in a theater, in general, has a chance of triggering a headache in me but combined with not having eaten an actual meal since the day before it was almost a certainty. I used some simple relaxation and pain management skills to push the headache aside for most of the movie.

Even with a mild headache and an empty stomach, I quite enjoyed the movie. It’s not perfect but nothing could be. For better or worse the Infinity Stones Saga is over and I’m mostly content with the ending we have been given.

Rating 4/5

Us – Reaction Post


Yesterday, I went to see Us. Normally I don’t go in for horror and it’s kinda out of season but after sleeping on Get Out I knew I had to see Us in the theater.

I left the theater feeling unsettled. I walked outside and around the side of the theater into bright sunlight to record some quick thoughts. I accidentally ended up standing in front of the Us movie poster while recording. When I got back inside I was still feeling off. I didn’t really recover until the pre-roll for Shazam started an hour later. If I hadn’t gone to see Shazam, I don’t know how long it might have taken for me to recover.

Despite ending the film unsettled there were a few scenes that made me laugh. There was a tumblr post about how Jordan Peele has made the transition from comedy to horror. It pointed out that humor and horror are about building tension and the difference is how you release that tension. You can see this in many Key & Peele sketches that zig-zag between the two.

In Us, the bits of comedy never took away from the horror. The film didn’t linger in the comedy; it hit those beats and continued on. I do wonder if the comedy didn’t enhance the horror. Did those fleeting moments of mirth provide needed contrast to the near constant dread?

Some elements of the film, doppelgangers or clones, memories, personhood, are things that I often think about. I’ve touched upon them in some of my writing but not in a horror format. In a way, this film was made to scare me.

Rating 5/5

Spoiler thoughts under the cut Continue reading “Us – Reaction Post”